All the Hummingbirds in South Dakota

You can find about six different types of hummingbirds in South Dakota. Some are easy to find, and others can discover if you have surprisingly good luck.

Whether or not you can find them also depends on the time of the year.

If you live in South Dakota, chances are you have seen more than one type of hummingbird. But maybe you were not able to identify them.

In this article, you will get all the help in determining the kind of hummingbirds in South Dakota.

Are There Hummingbirds in South Dakota?

There is a total of six different types of hummingbirds in South Dakota. These are the names of all –

  1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
  2. Rufous Hummingbird
  3. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
  4. Calliope Hummingbird
  5. Black-Chinned Hummingbird
  6. Anna’s Hummingbird

Hummingbirds in South Dakota

Six different types of hummingbirds in South Dakota have many distinguishable features and characteristics. If you are not careful, you might confuse one bird with another.

Below is a list of all the hummingbirds in South Dakota with their distinctive hallmarks.

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus Colubris)

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are one of the most common hummingbirds found in South Dakota.

Many of these birds migrate toward the central region of South Dakota during winter. Some of them fly here from outside the country even.

Identifying Features

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are a small group of birds with a size similar to or smaller than a sparrow. They have a slim and a bit bent bill and small wings.

These wings can extend to the tail when Ruby-throated Hummingbird is perching.

They have tiny legs, which becomes a hindrance during walks. But this small size also helps them to move around rapidly.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a bright emerald or greenish golden colored back and head. They are gray to white on the bottom of their body.

Males have a shimmering red throat that shines in the dark.

This bird has spectacular vision and can see colors that normal human eyes cannot see. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ hearts beat so rapidly that one can hear them from the outside.

Food Habit

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds choose colorful red and orange flowering plants to consume the nectars.

They mainly prefer nectars from honeysuckle, trumpet creeper, bee balm, red morning glory, jewelweed, and red buckeye. This bird also drinks tree saps and sugar water from bird feeders.

Small insects are another of their favorite foods. They eat flies, bees, gnats, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and spiders.

This bird finds these insects on leaves, trees, the ground, and spider webs.

Nesting Pattern

Their preferred areas for building nests are abandoned fields, forest borders, groves, grasslands, and water edges.

This bird builds its nest in tall trees and shrubs about 10 to 50 feet above the lance.

They choose branches protruding from the bark and sloped parts of a tree to build their nests. Mostly females build the nests using grasses, fibers, leaves, lichens, and spider webs.

Mating and Incubation

Male Ruby flies around the female bird like a pendulum during their courtship. They make a buzzing noise while flying around the female hummingbird.

Male birds fly away after mating and start their migration.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds lay two eggs at a time. Only the female birds incubate the eggs, and it is for 10 to 15 days.

2. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus)

Rufous hummingbirds migrate from South Dakota to Canada in the summer. In spring, they come back to South Dakota.

Then again, in the fall, they migrate to the country’s southern region by flying over several mountains.

Identifying Features

Rufous hummingbirds are lean and more petite in size. Their bills are entirely straight and without any bents.

They have tails that form a point when enclosed. This bird has small wings, and they do not go as far as its tail when it’s sitting.

They are the same size as Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, meaning Rufous Hummingbirds are the same size as a sparrow or smaller.

Male Rufous Hummingbirds radiate like coals on fire in fine lighting. They are bright orange on their back and stomach with a bright, glimmering red throat.

Female birds are green on top with brownish-red spots on their green tail. One can find orange markings on their throat.

Food Habit

Rufous Hummingbirds’ diet consists of various insects and nectars. They get their nectar from many colorful and tubular plants such as mints, fireweeds, penstemon, columbine, larkspurs, scarlet gilia, columbines, scarlet sage, paintbrush, and currants.

From the insects, they prefer relatively large insects such as midges, gnats, flies, caterpillars, and aphids. This bird drinks sweet water from feeders as well.

Nesting Pattern

Rufous Hummingbirds reproduce in open and secluded areas such as parks, fields, yards, forests, swamps, meadows, and shrubbed regions.

These hummingbirds build their nests near the ground of coniferous and deciduous trees about 5 to 30 feet from the ground. They recycle their old nests by adding new building materials.

Female birds mostly build nests using grass cups, moss, leaves, spider webs, and lichens.

Mating and Incubation

Male birds court the female birds by flying high and diving low, creating a buzzing noise. One male bird mates with multiple female birds at the same period.

These birds lay two eggs but sometimes 1 to 3 eggs at a time. The eggs have a white color on the surface.

Female Rufous Hummingbirds incubate the eggs for 15 to 20 days.

3. Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus Platycercus)

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are the least common hummingbirds found in South Dakota. But sometimes, you can find them in the western region of South Dakota, mainly in the Black Hills National Forest.

They can be seen in South Dakota from the end of spring to summer.

Identifying Features

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are small with lean bodies. They have a big head and an extended sharp bill.

This hummingbird has a comparatively long tail that reaches further than the wings during perching. They are significantly more extensive than a Calliope Hummingbird but smaller than a Rufous Hummingbird.

Compared to an average sparrow, this bird is either the same size or smaller than them.

The top part of and Broad-tailed Hummingbird is shimmery green, and its flanks are yellow to green in color. Their chest is white with a bar along their stomach.

Mature males have a red to magenta patch on their throats.

Female and juvenile birds have spots on the chin, throat, and around the eye. One can see flashes of white on this bird’s tail during its flight.

Food Habit

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds mainly feed on various insects and nectars from flowering plants. They choose nectars from Indian paintbrush, larkspur, sage, red columbine, scarlet gilia, willow, lily, and currant.

These birds also drink sweet water from bird feeders. However, since nectars do not contain sufficient protein, they eat many small insects.

This includes ants, flies, grasshoppers, spiders, gnats, and many others.

Nesting Pattern

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds choose secluded woodlands like pine oaks, pinyon-junipers, montane scrubs, and evergreens for their breeding and nest building.

They build their nest on tree branches or twigs about 10 to 20 feet above the ground.

The females mainly build a nest, using plant down, spider webs, moss, lichens, twigs, leaves, and barks.

Mating and Incubation

Male birds fly high and dive low in a display during their courtship. Female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds lay two eggs or 1 to 3 eggs at a time which are white.

Plus, the female birds incubate the eggs for 15 to 20 days.

4. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus Calliope)

Calliope hummingbirds migrate to central regions of America. They fly to western Canada and the northwest Pacific during the breeding season.

These are the smallest bird found in the United States.

Identifying Features

Calliope Hummingbirds are comparatively smaller than most other hummingbirds. It has an arched-up posture making it look even tinier.

This bird has a stubby tail and mini wings that do not reach the tail. It has a slim and small bill.

Compared to other birds, they are significantly shorter than the Black-chinned Hummingbirds and nearly the same as or smaller than a sparrow.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds have dark red to magenta-colored lines on their throat, which make them more distinctive. They are green at the bottom.

Both female and male birds have a green top. Female and juvenile birds are yellow to orange colored underneath their body.

Food Habit

This hummingbird mainly feeds on nectars of cupped flowers and remote tubular flowers. When looking for insects, they followed a hawk’s hunting mechanism and perched on a tree.

Then they prey on insects either in midair or from the ground. They also drink sap from trees and sweet water from bird feeders.

Nesting Pattern

Calliope Hummingbirds prefer cold mountain regions, meadows, forests, and meadows for their breeding spot. These hummingbirds build their nests on conifers, deciduous plants, and about 10 to 45 feet up the ground.

Only the female birds build the nests, using pine cones, moss, spider webs, lichen, fibers, and barks to build the nest.

Mating and Incubation

Male Calliope Hummingbirds fly up and down in a spectacle to attract the female birds while making a zipping sound.

The females lay two eggs at a time which are white on their surface. Only female birds participate in incubation which takes about 15 to 18 days.

5. Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus Alexandri)

Black-chinned hummingbirds migrate from South Dakota to Central America and Mexico during the breeding season. These are one of the most uncommon hummingbirds found in South Dakota.

Identifying Features

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are significantly small birds with quite sharp bills. Like many other hummingbirds, black-chinned is also the same size as a sparrow or smaller than theirs.

Both male and female black-chinned have the same weight, length, and wingspan.

This bird has a muted green color on top and bleak gray color on the bottom. The male of this species has a glossy black chin with a shimmery mauve root.

If you look at the female birds, they have paler throats than the males.

Both male and female display a backside with a lustrous gleaming green color with a rich black bill.

Food Habit

The Black-chinned Hummingbirds like to eat small insects such as grasshoppers, ants, flies, beetles, mites, mosquitoes, and gnats.

They also prefer eating nectar from many beautiful flowers, but they especially choose red flowers. Water mixed with sugar is also a favorite food they drink from the nearest bird feeders.

Nesting Pattern

Black-chinned Hummingbirds mainly breed near canyons and rivers. They choose willow, sugarberry, cottonwood, salt-cedar, and oak trees to build their nests.

This hummingbird chooses to build their nests 5 to 10 feet above the ground on tall shrubs and trees. Depending on their location, black-chinned might decide to make the nest higher than 8 feet or lower than 4 feet.

They build their nest in the branches protruding from the main bark.

Only female birds participate in building the nests. Male birds might help by bringing some building materials, but most of the time, they have no contribution.

Females find grasses, spider webs, and natural fibers to build the nest’s structure. Then they cover it with mosses, leaves, and lichens.

Mating and Incubation

Male hummingbirds fly back and forth around the female. People call this technique a pendulum display. While flying, the male birds make whirring or buzzing sounds.

After mating, the female Black-chinned Hummingbird lays two eggs at once, which is white. The fathers do not participate in the incubation process.

And the mother birds incubate the eggs for 12 to 15 days.

6. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte Anna)

Anna’s hummingbirds are uncommon in South Dakota, with some rare sightings. These birds tend to avoid breeding in central and Eastern parts of the United States.

They choose to stay in South Dakota most between October and December.

Identifying Features

Anna’s Hummingbirds are one of the most beautiful hummingbirds with their colorful body. They are comparatively bulkier than most other hummingbirds with large heads.

These hummingbirds have sharp but small bills and significantly broad tails. Due to their relatively larger size, Anna’s Hummingbirds’ tails go past their wingtips.

These hummingbirds are primarily green without any orange or yellow speckles on them, unlike other hummingbirds. Their heads have a shimmery dark pink color.

In low light, this dark pink color seems like a muted gray or pale brown color.

Food Habit

This hummingbird’s primary food is nectar from various flowering plants such as gooseberry, currant, manzanita, and eucalyptus. They also eat many small insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, flies, midges, etc., found in every nook and cranny.

If they can find it, Anna’s Hummingbirds drink saps from trees and sweet water from bird feeders.

Nesting Pattern

They built their nests in suburban areas, urban areas, coastal areas, wooded areas, and forests. You can find their nests in most of the eucalyptus trees around you.

Males do not have any contribution to building the nests. Only female birds participate in building the nests.

They make them about 5 to 25 feet above the land with food sources near them. Most of the time, they choose poison oak, sycamore, oak, and eucalyptus trees for this.

Female birds find leaves, willows, cattails, feathers, and thistles to build the nest structure, which is bound using spider webs. Then they cover the frame with mosses, liches, and green leaves.

Mating and Incubation

Male birds fly as high as 140 feet in the sky during courtship and then dive steeply toward the land. During this flight display, they make a whistling sound with their mouth and a whirring sound with their tail and wing feathers.

Both male and female birds can have multiple partners per season for breeding. After mating, the female birds lay two white eggs at a time.

The males neither participate in incubation nor take after the offspring. Female birds incubate the eggs for 15 to 20 days and nestle them for 20 days.

Species Profile

Below is a list of all six hummingbirds with their different physical and behavioral characteristics.

NameLengthWeightWingspanCommonly Found InBehaviorInteresting Fact
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird2.5 to 3.5 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz3 to 4.5 inchesTropical and equatorial regionTerritorialBeat wings 50 times per second
Rufous Hummingbird2.5 to 3.5 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz4 to 4.5 inchesMountain, tropical, equatorial regionAggressive, defensiveLongest migration with more than 3000 miles
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird3 to 3.5 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz5 to 5.5 inchesMeadow, scrubland, woodlandTerritorial, high screechLoud, trill, metallic sound
Calliope Hummingbird3 to 3.5 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz4 to 4.5 inchesMeadow, forest, streamsAggressive, territorialSmallest bird in the US
Black-Chinned Hummingbird3.3 to 3.8 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz4 to 4.5 inchesMeadow, woodland, orchard, evergreenTerritorial, solitaryDiurnal
Anna’s Hummingbird3.5 to 4 inches0.1 to 0.2 oz4.5 to 5 inchesParks, woods, scrubland, coastal areaTerritorial, fierceBeat wings 40 to 50 times per second

Final Words

If you try, you can find all six types of hummingbirds in South Dakota.

Some of them you can find very quickly, such as the ruby-throated hummingbird, whereas some of them are very difficult to find, such as the black-chinned hummingbird and anna’s hummingbird.

And some are native to South Dakota, and some migrate in different seasons.

So, always remember this before trying your luck when you go on to search for all types of hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds Found in Nearby States of South Dakota:



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